Palace asserts PH out of ICC jurisdiction after tribunal sets 2020 deadline for drug war preliminary exam

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2019 05:38 PM

MANILA - The International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have jurisdiction over the Philippines, a Malacañang official said Saturday, a day after a report claimed that the ICC is set to finalize its preliminary examination on alleged crimes in the Duterte administration's drug war next year.

In 2020, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC will decide "whether to seek authorization to open an investigation into the situation in the Philippines," the report read.

"As we have maintained earlier, while the Philippines may have been a signatory to the Rome Statute, its membership did not place it under the jurisdiction of the ICC because the law that created it did not comply with the publication requirement to pass the due process test imposed by our Constitution," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

The Philippines moved to pull out of the international tribunal in 2018 after the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal launched a preliminary examination against alleged abuses in President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against narcotics.

The motion took effect in March this year.

Aside from the lack of jurisdiction, the ICC should dismiss its probe on the Philippines as alleged incidents of extrajudicial killings "do not fall within the ICC’s definition of crimes against humanity," Panelo said.

"This Government does not sanction nor condone any unlawful act resulting in the loss of lives. Neither does it allow any widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population," he said.

"The deaths occurring in the course of legitimate police operations come about because the criminal suspects subject of these law enforcement activities resort to violence that imperil the lives and limbs of the police officers," he said.

Should there be instances of extrajudicial killings, the Philippines, as an independent state could conduct an investigation on its own, the spokesperson said.

"There is no evidence that this Administration is unable or unwilling to prosecute crimes against humanity. The opposite is true. The government is pursuing vigorously its campaign against all kinds of crimes," he said.

"Any resort therefore to a foreign tribunal relative to the management of our country's state policies is utter disrespect, and any complainant who does it who is a citizen of the Republic is an infidel to the sovereign aspirations of this Republic."

As of June 30, about 5,000 drug suspects were killed since Duterte waged his deadly campaign against illegal drugs when he rose to the presidency in July 2016, according to data from the Philippine National Police.

The administration has been consistent in denying that police shot drugs suspect in self-defense during anti-narcotics operations across the country.